Termed globally as the “the land of impossible attainments”, Bangladesh has made swift and unprecedented progress in its efforts toward poverty alleviation. Bangladesh has not only achieved its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2015 but has also relieved poverty for 45 percent of those who were considered to be in extreme poverty within the last five years.
Bangladesh’s success can also be mapped by the decline in its poverty rate by 1.7 percent per year despite a steadily growing population. According to World Bank, within the last ten years, the number of poor people had dropped from 63 million to 47 million by 2010.
Bangladesh is currently on the road towards minimizing poverty to 13.5 percent by 2021 and an eventual and successful eradication of poverty.
In celebration of Bangladesh’s efforts, World Bank president Jim Yong Kim traveled to Bangladesh on the International Day on Poverty Alleviation, October 17. The World Bank has praised Bangladesh for the example it has set for the global community and, according to Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith, is “stunned”.
Alleviation of poverty in Bangladesh has brought forth both unique and typical solutions which highlight the various and successful methods other countries can adopt to alleviate their own plights with poverty.
Since 1976, when Nobel Peace Prize-winner Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank introduced microfinance to Bangladesh, allowing the poor to increase their incomes by receiving loans, poverty rates have declined. Microfinance has raised per capita household consumption, and by 1991 and 1992 had resulted in a decline of poverty rates of five percent.
Microfinance is still widely used and known to be a successful tool to alleviate poverty – at least 80 percent of poor households are currently covered by microfinance services.
As the poor are provided with funds, they are able to gain access to modernized technology, to invest in their own productive capacity and move towards working in a competitive global economy.
Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia proudly proclaimed, “we have received a lot of things from the international community, but we have given the model of microcredit to the world”.
Ganokendras, a series of community centers dedicated to education and training and established to help reach the UN Millennium Development Goals, has also assisted Bangladesh’s efforts toward poverty alleviation. The centers have not only provided women with accommodation, training courses and financial support, but also information about contraception and family planning.
According to World Bank, fertility rates have been dropping over the past several decades, which has resulted in lower dependency ratios and more income per capita. Moreover, where Ganokendras are available, 10 percent of children were attending primary school regularly.
Most generally, there has been a stable economic growth and rising GDP in Bangladesh. A growth in the garment industry, which accounts for 70 percent of exports as well as the rural non-farm sector has also played a big role in poverty reduction.
– Priscilla Son